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How to Reface Cabinets


Cabinet refacing is a less expensive way to give kitchens, bathrooms, garages, work rooms—any room with cabinetry—an update without having to purchase and install new cabinets.

The cabinet refacing projects that are simplest and least expensive involve covering all cabinet surfaces with new thin, pre-finished wooden veneer, either self-adhesive or fixed yourself with carpenter’s glue.

The other method involves replacing cabinet drawers and door fronts with new finished ones you’ve selected (that match your veneers), so that veneer is only placed on the end panels and frame surfaces that remain exposed. Often, original molding is switched out for new molding, as well, that complements the new look of the cabinetry.

If you chose to use unfinished doors, drawers or veneers, everything is sanded and then painted or stained to match.

Do-it-yourselfers with woodworking knowledge probably have the tools and know-how to pull off a successful cabinet refacing project, which homeowners can typically complete over a weekend.


  • First, remove all doors and drawers.

  • Remove any loose paint or stain and fill in any gouges or indentations in the wood surfaces with wood putty and then sand smooth.

  • Before gluing on veneer, clean cabinet surfaces with a solution of mild dishwashing detergent and water, but go light to avoid getting the wood soaking wet.

  • Sand the entire surface of your cabinets that will receive veneer. This and any other sanding you find necessary should be done by hand, with 150-grit sandpaper, and never a power sander.

  • Wipe away dust that results from the sanding.

  • Apply water-based (never solvent-based) contact adhesive to surface of cabinets that will receive veneer. This will ensure the best result.

  • Once the veneer is cut and applied, press down with a putty knife and apply even pressure across the surface of the strip for professional-looking adhesion.

  • Apply the veneer cabinet by cabinet. Do not apply to all the stiles or rails at once.

The experienced contractors at Mr. Handyman have master carpentry skills, and are able to make sure you get the professional-quality look you want in your “new” cabinets. Call today to speak with your local Mr. Handyman.